Gaiman, Neil: Books of Magic

Non-cruise books read this week (split up for import into MT):

After reading Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, I re-read the original Books of Magic miniseries, written by Neil Gaiman, in which Constantine is part of the Trenchcoat Brigade that gives Tim Hunter the tour of magic. My impression of this series hasn’t changed much since the first time I read it: inoffensive, but would probably be a lot more interesting if I knew the backstories of the people met on the tour. (There are annotations, but it’s not the same.) I do appreciate the art more, having gained more experience in paying attention to the graphic part of graphic novels since. And, several years later, I still giggle at the hare telling the hedge piggie,

But it’s definite summat to tell your grandchildren, eh, Master Redlaw? “Coincidentally, the werry same day I was popped into a cook-pot, I discovered Empusa’s Infinitely Extensible Chain, on a owl.”

I’m given to understand that the subsequent series is not as good as the opening miniseries, which recommends it to me not at all.

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  1. I’m given to understand that the subsequent series is not as good as the opening miniseries, which recommends it to me not at all. Actually, the subsequent series is much better–it gives Timothy Hunter greater depth and personality, develops an interesting cast of supporting characters, and has some lovely world-building. For a long time, it was the only comic I was reading regularly. Unfortunately, near the end of his run, the first writer John Ney Rieber completely lost it — the last storyarc is a total mess. Some of it was fixed up by the following writer, Peter Gross, who was also the artist on the title, but he wasn’t as good a writer as Rieber at his best, if considerably better than Rieber at his worst. I didn’t read the subsequent renamed series by other people but heard that the first one was pretty bad.

  2. How far into the Books of Magic series proper would you suggest reading, then? And is it worth reading only that far and then stopping?

  3. I would say Book 6, The Burning Girl.

  4. I’m with Mely. I was reading it as it came out, so I can’t tell you the TPB titles, but up until about #25 it’s great, and even after that, parts of it are wonderful. It first starts to fall apart when there’s an extended sequence in the 30s in Faerie that’s, well, unfocused in the extreme. (Although I recently re-read it and it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.) In any case, once the (completely charming and wonderful) Molly leaves the book, you can stop reading.

  5. Thanks for the _Books of Magic_ advice. I’ve got several volumes of _Lucifer_ upstairs waiting for my attention, and also some manga (*waves to Mely*), but next time after that I’m in the mood for graphic novels, I’ll definitely keep it in mind.

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